30 Miles + a Coyote = Typical Saturday

Good news!  Despite the injuries and being sick all week, I can still bang out 30 miles.  Bad news…I have to find 20 more in six weeks.  Yikes!!  North Face.

I had somewhat planned out my day….park in Tennessee Valley and do a loop towards Rodeo Valley and then a loop in Pirates Cove and some junk miles in TV before, during, and after.  And of course, hit my car as an aid station each time I passed.  I will say, Slimer makes a great aid station.

I started with a loop out and back to the beach, pretty uneventful, but probably should have put on the ankle braces.  Oh well…gotta get stronger somehow.  I returned to my aid station to restock before heading up Marincello.  And to the lady who felt the need to stalk me for my parking spot.  First, I gave zero indication I was leaving….Second, you can always ask….and Third, try the one in front of me..or behind me…or on the other side of the road.  There’s plenty, I promise.  But, I do hope you enjoyed watching me get ready to run.    
Anyway….so I headed up Marincello, took that over to SCA, past the steps I tripped down, down Coastal, and out to Bunker Dr.  I really like Coastal….nice, gentle, down hill, very little to trip on.  Then I spent about a mile trying to get on Rodeo….due to trail construction, all the entrances had changed.  I never found the right way to get on the trail, but I did find the trail blazed by all of those before me who must have gotten annoyed trying to figure out the routing.  One jump around a fence and I was on my way.  Going up Rodeo was tougher than I remember, but not too bad.  I was well within the pace I’d like to main for the race, even though today was all about getting the miles in.  
Once I got to the top of Rodeo, I decided to explore a bit….kind of tough now since I know the headlands pretty well.  But, regardless, I decided to take Oakwood…or maybe it was Oak Valley, back down to TV.  I didn’t think I had been on that trail before, but quickly learned that I had.  Except, I had climbed up it, rather than run down.  The first part of it wasn’t too bad – nice, easy jog down.  Similar to running down Coastal.  Then I got to the rocks and the steep and the gravel.  Good times….well….not really.  I went down once and then gave up and crab walked down the next part.  I’m done taking chances.  
Got down, got back to slimer…..mile 16.  More than halfway.  Re-stocked, refueled, swapped the sweaty tank for a dry t-shirt, and I was off to Pirates Cove.  
Now, Pirates Cove was more treacherous than I remember it.  Maybe it never recovered from North Face last year, maybe I’m just afraid of falling.  I’m pretty sure I was crawling through parts where Kenya and I used to jog last year….somehow, I will have to find a way to get over this trail fear.  As I made my way down to the scary stairs, I did have to stop and pause, and admire the beauty of where I was running.  I was also really looking forward to getting on the far less steep single track you can see in the distance.  
I followed the single track past the bridge I crashed out on during this run, and noticed the edge where my foot slipped had been patched.  The single track leads up a bit and then out to a fire road and down into Muir Beach.  The descent into Muir Beach wasn’t as bad as I remember (now if I could just get over my fear of every other descent….), though I did have to navigate around a group of four and a dog that managed to somehow take up the entire fire road.  Really, people?!
I got down into Muir Beach and could smell people grilling….mmmm….grilling.  At mile 22ish, I was really wishing I was coming up on the BBQ and beer that was at the finish line last weekend.  But, no such luck.  I stopped at the picnic table to grab a snack – afraid for a minute all I had to eat was the Margherita Pizza Cliff/food/whatever it is, but found a cookie and some GU I didn’t realize I had.  The Margherita Pizza thing will live to save me another day…..
After a brief snack break, I headed up Middle Green Gulch – North Face goes all the way up Coyote Ridge, which is steeper, but Middle Green Gulch is longer, and I was really looking for the miles.  Going up that was….a challenge.  I was tired, but I guess I’m supposed to be at mile 24, 25, etc.  It was long, but looking back on it, not that long and soon I was at Coyote Ridge.  Just had to clear the top part of that, and I’d be in for a nice descent into Tennessee Valley.  
The last push up Coyote Ridge wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, so I guess that’s a good thing.  The descent is another story.  The first part was fine, easy fire roads….but Miwok cut-off, that I used to love, terrified me for some reason.  Again, I used to run down most of this….why am I so afraid??  I’ve really only taken two noteworthy falls, despite running out there how many times?
On the up side, the sun was starting to set, making for some really nice colors in the sky.  On the downside, I turned off my watch and forgot to turn it back on.  Ooops.  Definitely ran more than 30 miles….

I briefly contemplated stopping at my car after getting back down from Coyote Ridge, but decided against it.  I had just about four miles to go…silly to stop now.  And I knew I didn’t really need to take off my super cool ankle braces.  So, I continued down Rhubarb Trail and back for an additional mile and then headed on a three mile out and back to the beach.  I was surprised at how much I was able to run.  It was flat, but still….

And, just when I thought I’d been on the most uninteresting, uneventful run, I met mile 28.5.  I was on my way back to my car from a three mile out and back to the beach.  Really junk miles, but at that point, who’s counting.  Anyway, I decided I should jog a bit, because, well, I felt like I could, so why not?  So, I’m jogging along, excited I’m only a mile and a half from the car and what do I see down the trail…Mr. Coyote.  He’s hard to see in the photo, but if you look down the trail on the left, he’s there.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the phone to magnify and take the photo before he started RUNNING AT ME.  Yes, your typically skittish coyote decided to run at me, rather than in the bushes.  I was caught somewhere between….’I am at mile 28.5 of a 30 mile run and you are between me and the finish line’ and ‘holy crap, what do I do if he gets to me.  I don’t have it in me to fight a coyote at mile 28.5’.  Luckily, after charging a few feet down the trail, he jumped off into the surrounding brush.  

 After my coyote sighting, the rest of my run was uneventful.  I passed by a man I had passed on my way out, and he said, ‘you did it’….I looked at him and said, ’30 miles…damn right, I did’.  I’m sure he thought I had just run out to the beach and back (4 miles) or something.  The look on his face was priceless.  He was like, really??  You ran 30 miles today?  Yup…yup, I did.

Now to find those other 20……

Coyote Ridge – Take Two

It’s my one-year anniversary with Coastal Trails….sort of.  This weekend is the Coyote Ridge race – the first race I did with Coastal last year (read all about it here!).  It was so much fun, I never left.  This year, I spent Saturday marking a good chunk of the course and Sunday working the race and sweeping the course.

Since I’m pretending I’m going to train for the North Face 50, I wanted to get a run in prior to marking.  I made sure to check on sweeping for Sunday before deciding on the additional mileage – I didn’t need a forty plus mile work out over two days….well, I do, but unfortunately I’m not ready for that.  Glad I checked, since the plan was for me to sweep the nearly 15-mile pink loop.  That meant a four mile pre-run, rather than a fourteen mile pre-run.

I got to Tennessee Valley in plenty of time to get in a four miler, but you never know, so I took off up Marincello as quickly as I could.  My trip up Marincello was pretty good…it had been a long time since I’d been up it, so it was like reuniting with an old friend.  I did notice there were random colored ribbons tied to wooden stakes throughout the trail….trail maintenance of some sort, I think.  Nothing I could do about it, but something that I thought could cause confusion, so I took a picture and made a mental note to let Wendell know when I met him a few hours later.

Before I knew it, I was at the top.  Sort of.  I planned to do Marincello – Miwok – Old Springs, coincidentally the yellow loop for the race tomorrow.  And, the top of Marincello, is the top of that hill, but there’s still a little more up before you hit the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and head down to Miwok to Old Springs.  Since I was at the top, I was definitely in the fog or rain or whatever had started.  Luckily, I only tried to fall twice on the way down.  Thankfully, I decided I was going to be the cool girl on the trail with two ankle braces, so I didn’t hurt anything.

Once I hit Miwok, I jogged down until I got to the nastily steep part….and it was wet….lucky me.  After almost slipping a second time, I decided to gently walk down the hill.  Ugh…when did I become so chicken on these hills.

I’m a big fan of Old Springs, so once I hit that trail, I was definitely up for a jog.  It felt great….a little scary, but great.  Again, why am I so chicken….ugh.  I jogged down Old Springs and then wanted to get in four miles, so did a little bit on Rhubarb trail until I hit my four and then walked back to slimer.  At that point, the rain had started (or the fog descended into the valley….never can tell here), so I moved him into the main parking lot (rain starts and everyone takes off, haha – my day had just begun) to wait for Wendell and Lynnard.  As I was hiding from the elements, I made the decision to completely change into my long sleeved shirt – I was wet, sweaty, and cold.  Not a good recipe for marking in the rain.  I decided to risk the heat later on.

Wendell arrived and showed me what I’d be doing….not only marking from Tennessee Valley to Point Bonita, but also taking a second trip to the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and Old Springs to mark the yellow only portion of the course.  And then back up the crazy descent.  What a good time I was in for…..well, I definitely needed the miles.  I let him know about the random markings due to the construction and I was off.

Heading up Marincello a second time was nearly as painless as the first.  For some reason, it’s the one hill in the headlands I can walk up like I own it.  Every time.  It was also nice to be headed uphill in the cold, wet weather that had developed.  It was pretty windy at the top, so I was worried about my pink ‘go straight’ sign and my yellow ‘go right’ signs.  By the time I had finished placing the yellow, the pink one had blown away…..so, I tied it to the tree branches instead.  A little sooner than I wanted it, but at least it would be there for the runners.

Off I was to mark the yellow, knowing both the trip down and the trip up would be an adventure.  Down because, well, I’m afraid of everything and it was wet.  And up because, well, it’s steep.  I only briefly questioned myself….not sure why…I know these trails and I’ve been up there tons of times.  Around the airport thing I went (different than I went before!), and down to Old Springs.  And then back up…..on my way up, I ran into a couple hiking that asked me if I was taking all the signs down.  Nope…putting them up.  The race is tomorrow.

Getting back to Marincello, I realized that my yellow ‘right’ and yellow ‘straight’ signs had blown over.  So, I had to be creative and find bushes to tie them to.  Not ideal, but at least they’d be there for the runners.  Once that I was done, I buried the yellow ribbons in my bag and headed off to mark the pink to Point Bonita.

Then, the rain stopped…and once it did…the beauty of the headlands came out….nothing like fall in the bay area.

Overall, the pink loop was uneventful…..I mean, it passed through the place on SCA where I busted my good ankle a few weeks ago and the place where I ran out of ribbon while marking Golden Gate, of course, not to be outdone by the turn I missed when I ran Coyote Ridge last year…..but, all that considered, pretty uneventful.  I blew up the turn I missed last year….hopefully no one misses it this year, headed up the road towards Point Bonita, passed the place I ran out of ribbons this summer, and spotted Slimer in the distance.  I made it.  Haha…..11.5 miles later, 15.5 on the day, and I was heading home.  Ready for a shower and some food…..But, I did capture this photo before I headed out….the beauty of a golden gate sunset is second to none…

Since I’ve been dealing with one injury after another (and then my foot turning blue), I’ve been good and followed Dr. Hal’s orders over the past few weeks and run on the flat, predictable trails of Woodside.  I’ve been home for about an hour and a half and I’m definitely feeling the hills from today.  Oh, the cramping that’s threatening.  I hate being out of shape….ugh.  I feel like I ran 30 miles, not 15.  And to think I actually felt fine after 17 miles of flat…..

Sunday brought an early morning – we were up and at Muir Beach before the sun.  Thank God for headlamps, haha.  The day started with me trying, and failing, to open the gate to the parking lot.  Luckily, Brian was with me and knew how to open it…or was strong enough to open it…or something like that.

I helped unload and then set up and worked registration – there were a decent amount of people registering day of, which kept us busy.  Lots of questions about bag checks and parking too.  

After a short stint at the start/finish helping with registration, I headed out to the Point Bonita aid station – of course it would be the one I never made it to…haha.  I got there, and wow….the view was amazing.  It pretty much put the views from Saturday to shame….the city behind the bridge, as the sun came up.  Always gorgeous….always breathtaking….no matter how many times I see it, or from what vantage point.  I mean, really, the picture doesn’t even do it justice.

We were the second aid station and runners were only hitting us once, so my time at the aid station was pretty short lived and passed quickly.  The runners were all in good spirits and many stopped to say hello and let us know how their run was going.  I spent a few minutes talking to one guy about the Umstead 100, a race he had run before and I hope to run someday.  A couple of them had questions about the course, and it was nice to being familiar with the trails and able to answer them.

Once we had wrapped at the aid station, I packed it up in the Xterra and headed out to sweep – the journey of nearly 12 miles begins with a single step.  Haha….I thought the first section would be new to me, as it was the part I missed the year before when I got lost and I don’t really run much on that side of Tennessee Valley.  But, I realized two things….first, I have been on those trails and second, I picked the right part of the course to lose (give me a walk up Miwok any day).  Oh the hills….it goes up and up forever….past the battery….and then up some more.  I vaguely remember running down the same trail during my first 50k….I think going down was just as brutal, with the added threat of falling and busting myself.  To keep the hike entertaining, I stopped to take a photo of a couple with their dog and to smile at a group of hikers who were impressed with how quickly I was hiking up the hill.

Going down the other side of the trail was pretty steep, but really nothing I should have had a problem with – if I wasn’t so afraid of the trails.  Stupid injuries.  But, I survived the descent and made it back to the Miwok junction, right where I found the course when I ran the race last year.  I’m pretty sure there was a moment where I threw my arms over my head, and exclaimed, ‘it’s the course!’.  I’m pretty sure anyone that saw me would have thought I was crazy.

This year I saw two rental mountain bikers looking at an upside-down map (oh Blazing Saddles…).  I stopped and asked where they were headed.  They were trying to find Tennessee Valley Road…at least it was something I could help them find.  And there were two other bikers that came up on us and offered to play tour guide.  I love the nice people I meet on the trails.

After that, I made my way up the steep part of Miwok for the second or third time that weekend.  At that point, I’d lost count.  I paused to cheer on some of the 50k runners who were on their way down.  Somewhere between there and Point Bonita, probably along Coastal, I ran into another rental mountain biker looking for directions….what was with them on Sunday?  But, I’ve been a tourist plenty of times and am happy to try to help.

I came up on the sharp left, the one I missed last year, and was happy to see that my gerry-rigged ‘wrong way’ sign held up.  Because of the wind on Saturday, and the importance of the sign, I created a tripod for it as opposed to the two we usually use.  Unfortunately, I found out later that one of the runners had missed it.  I grabbed all that stuff, headed up the hill, and on to the road.    

After being on the road for a bit, I wasn’t sure I’d ever been so thankful to see our car….well, I feel like I say that ever time I get tired and just want to be done.  But, regardless, I was thrilled to see our car – I was done!  I sent Brian a text to let him know I was on my way and took off.  I should have paused to take off my super cool ankle braces, but I just wanted to get back.  Ouch….bad decision.  As much as the braces had saved my ankles for the past twelve miles, my ankles were done with the braces.  But, I really just wanted to get back down to the finish….I knew I was late and they probably needed help, and selfishly, I was hoping there was a dry race shirt I could put on.  If I had thought I was cold before, I was definitely cold now.

After briefly following someone who felt the need to drive down to Muir Beach at 5 MPH (thankfully they pulled over quickly), I got back to the start/finish to find it mostly cleaned up.  And, yay there were extra shirts.  Hooray for a dry shirt….went a long way with feeling warm in the wind at Muir Beach.  We finished loading up pretty quickly….joked about my ability to load a tent without breaking my leg….and my text about running out of ribbons (just kidding this time ;)).

Ok….after two days on the trails, I am exhausted.  Until next time….

It’s All Fun and Games ’til You Fall Down the Stairs….

Two posts in two days, this must be some sort of new record….

But, you know, there’s never a dull moment and since I’m confined to the couch for awhile (again), I thought I might as well write about it.

The day started out normal enough….enjoyed sleeping in, confirmed that I could keep the rental car while they take a mont to repair Slimer (still waiting to find out who pays for that one…), made plans with a friend to go run…typical Saturday.

Brian and I headed over to the parking lot on the other side of the bridge to meet our friend Ann and run the ninja loop.  I’d heard plenty about the ninja loop, but had never actually run it (this will be important later).  As soon as we got there, we realized there were a lot of people heading up the trail….apparently we chose the same day as the Headlands 100 (and 50 and 75 and marathon).  Go figure, I never run from over there.  We decided to share the trails, everyone was pretty spread out, and we’d be turning off their course shortly.

So, up the hill we went.  I ran into one of the guys I see a lot at the Coastal races – (running the 100 mile, of course!).  I wished him luck and continued along my way up the hill.  I’d forgotten how long that hill actually was.  And then I came to a ‘T’…..hmmmm…..wish I knew the trails that made up the ninja loop.  I’m slow, so of course Brian and Ann were ahead of me.  haha.  I remembered when we were chatting about the trails, someone mentioned SCA.  The sign said SCA was to the right, so I took a guess and off I went.

Of course, I quickly realized I either made a wrong decision or was way behind.  I figured it was the former, and luckily had cell service, so sent off a quick text to let Brian and Ann know I’d see them back at the car in a few hours.  I continued to follow along the race course, getting asked direction at some point.  Really?  You’re going to ask me?  haha….I did have the course map on my phone, but another runner came along that knew the course, so they were all set.

At that point, I googled a map of the ninja loop and realized I was pretty much doing a reverse ninja loop.  I decided to eliminate the portion that drops in to Tennessee Valley so I could make it back to the car before everyone left.  I stayed high and then took Miwok down into Rodeo Valley….from there, I headed over to Rodeo Valley trail and eventually back up to SCA trail (one of my favorites!). SCA would eventually take me back over to the parking lot and back to the car.

And I love running on SCA….it’s not really uphill, it’s not really downhill….very rolling.  And the views, the views are spectacular.  It was everything I had missed about running and more.  I was also back on the race course, so was having fun cheering on the runners as they passed….of course a good number of them told me what a good job I was doing too….haha.  I, of course, didn’t have a bib, but didn’t have time to explain, so smiled, waved, wished them luck, and went with it.

I ran a lot of SCA….so great!!  And then came to some stairs pretty close to where SCA would meet the trail to go back to the bridge.  I’ve marked this area twice, run it far more than that….I KNOW to watch my footing.  I usually walk it…because, well, falling down the stairs would suck.  A LOT.  Today, I ran them.  Maybe because I could…maybe because I want to get over my fear of the technical terrain.  I don’t know.  I remember thinking it would really suck to fall here and I should be careful.  And then….

Trip…SNAP.

Oh…well….ouch.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  I guess luckily there were ropes on the stairs that I could grab on to, so I didn’t completely bust my ass.  But, something snapped.  My good ankle….awesome.  I mean, I had the bad one in a brace.  Barring anything super crazy, that one wasn’t going anywhere.  I just stopped for a minute….held on to the ropes in my little crouched position as I had fallen….and similar to this day, I bounced my foot up and down to make sure it still worked.  Thankfully, it did.  As I got up, I overheard a group of hikers talking….one of them said….’oh look…one fell….’  Yup, yup, I did.  Thanks for noticing.  And I’m good….thanks for asking.  For those who are wondering, yes, I did get up and pass them.

I sent another text to Brian and Ann….’one mile out….fell….walking in’.  And that’s what I did.  Passed multiple hikers (really guys, the busted foot girl is passing you??).  And received a lot of encouragement from passing racers.  You guys rock…and I hope you all have a fabulous race!  I only hope I was half as encouraging to you – especially since you may still be running now, as I sit on my couch with my foot up, enjoying some wine.

I met Brian and Ann at the parking lot and we headed for home.  I mean, it all makes sense….last year, I bust my foot the weekend before we leave for Nepal….this year, I bust my foot the weekend before Tahoe.  Good times…..

At this point, I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong.  However, I have sprained the other ankle multiple times and this feels…different.  It’s not crazy swollen, but the actual ankle (malleolus) is really sore to the touch and starting to bruise.  It also doesn’t really hurt unless I stand on it, move it, or touch it, which I remember the sprains just throbbing.  Again, it’s just different.  I’m not sure if that means good or bad different, but I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday, so will just add this to the list.

Like I said….never a dull moment….and I really just need to live in that bubble Erica suggested last weekend.  But, it was a pretty amazing run before I tanked.  Ugh…stupid stairs.

Thought of the day – I should have just stayed home and drank beer.

Until next time, over and out….

Its Always an Adventure

Every time I think about updating this thing, I come back in and realize its been a month….sometimes more.  And then I realize that it feels like the longest month ever…or the shortest…and that everything and nothing seems to be going on simultaneously.  And I begin to wonder exactly where it is I’m headed and when I’m going to get there….then I remember that if I just keep moving, I’ll eventually be moving forward and get where I’m going.  That New Year’s update I promised, it might end up being a happy 2016 post – its been a hell of a year, friends.

Now that I’m a bit more up and running (literally and figuratively), and having adventures again (or maybe just feel like writing about them), hopefully I’ll be better about blogging.  I do have a 50-miler to start training for, that’s bound to be good for an adventure or two….haha….

Anyway, the past couple weeks have been great personally – seeing friends, getting cleared to run, working races, plans to join the gym, planning the future with Brian….I was so excited for a three day weekend.  I definitely needed it!  Friday, we got lucky and were told to leave the office early (ah-maz-ing).  I had scheduled a nail appointment later in the evening – I finally had to breakdown and find a place in Redwood City since I never back it back to San Francisco before 7 (in time to go to my usual place).  So, I decided to use the extra time to fill up the car for the race the next day and join the gym…and then use the rest of the time to walk and get some miles in.

But, fate had other plans.  I drove down and checked out the gym….and had second thoughts…like maybe I’d check out the other one in Redwood City.  So, I decided to go to the gas station and google the address of the second one while the car was filling.  Unfortunately, the second gym was across town and not convenient from the office at all.  So, I decide to suck it up and join the first one…it’s only a month, anyway.  I finish filling the car and get on the road back to the gym….I’m hanging out at  the stoplight, waiting for the light to change.  There were at least two lanes, maybe three….one was a left turn only lane – this one had its own light.  The arrow for the left turn only lane turned green and BAM!

I’m not really sure what was worse, feeling the impact or hearing the crunching sound.  Unlike when Brian and I got hit at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza, this was not like bumper cars.  It was like a fight…that slimer obviously lost.  I heard the crunching and for a minute, wasn’t really sure what to do next.  First, I pulled over on the corner, and then decided I should probably just pull back into the gas station.  So I did – met the other driver and called the insurance from there.  Somehow, I kept it together while waiting to lose it, but that never happened.  The ‘other guy’ was a giant pick-up truck with what’s apparently called a kangaroo bumper.  Unfortunately, as I thought, slimer was no match for him, but, the driver was nice as we sorted everything out.  The insurance company was great – yay Progressive, and at least that bit was sorted pretty quickly.

Then, then I wasn’t sure what to do.  Brian was I work, so I sent him a text and a few photos….then called my mom.  Cause, well, what else do you do.  After chatting with my parents for a bit, I decided to go to about my business as planned – headed back to the gym to sign up and then to my nail appointment.  I was either going to have a scary drive home now or an hour and a half from now, right?  And with the adrenaline running strong, I didn’t really feel all that sore.

So, with my nails a pretty color, a plan in place to get to the race in the morning, and a double check that my bumper wasn’t going to fall off on the 101, I headed home.  It wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be, though I did have someone run a stop sign in Noe Valley and try to take me out…cause that’s exactly what I needed…..What I did need was to be home, with some wine, and a couch…and a massage – now that the adrenaline was wearing off, I was definitely feeling the soreness.

I woke up the next morning, but not nearly as sore as I thought I might be.  After spending the night
between being terrified that I was going to wake up in a world of hurt and feeling like I was going to
be sick (but in retrospect was probably due to soreness from my abs), I was really afraid for what I might feel like, but other than a few creaks and groans, it wasn’t too bad.

I spent Saturday in the same fashion I’ve spent the past few weekends – adventuring on the trails; as a course marker, sweeper, race photographer, aid station worker, shuttle driver, and everything in between.  Its been so much fun….and, as I said last Sunday, always an adventure.  And really, with as crazy as life has been, Coastal Trails has been my constant and for that, I will be forever grateful. Thankfully, this weekend was a shorter race and there wasn’t any marking or sweeping involved.  Typically, I love marking and sweeping, but it was almost like I’d gotten hit by a truck or something.  Nothing a couple of Advil couldn’t fix, and I think walking around actually helped me loosen up a bit.  And, as always, working the race was a ton of fun….I’m kind of sad that I can’t go back until October.

Yesterday, I decided to officially get back into running and headed over to Mt. Tam with Brian and his friend Ann.  I got in an eight mile summit run and then two miles on some flat ground, because what else would you do when you’ve been cleared to run for a week and you were in a car accident two days prior.  Well, my idea of taking it easy was always different than everyone else’s…anyway, I had so much fun running, and maybe if I add two or five or so miles each week, I’ll be ready for north face…..haha. God help me.

Monday, we hit the gym and then had a BBQ with our friends Sean and Chiara.  Delicious Mac and cheese and steak, and fun drinks and games. Great way to spend Labor Day – can’t wait to head to Tahoe in a couple of weeks.  A mini vacation is going to be amazing.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to sorting out the car nightmare – both the insurance and the actual car.  And its affect on me…I’m not sure I’ve ever looked forward to a visit to the chiropractor more.

Until next time…

Tales of a Platelet Injection

So, the saga of the busted knee continues….at the time of this update, I was hoping that once I had crossed prolotherapy and ozone off my bucket list, my knee would be fixed.  Unfortunately, after an additional round of both prolo and ozone, the knee still wasn’t where I wanted it to be.  I didn’t have too many problems hiking…or running (after I decided to see what would happen if I just went out and did it).

I spent some more time in PT and the doctor continued to check it with the ultrasound.  The good news, the strain went away for the most part, other than in the quad.  The bad news, there was still a dark spot on the meniscus, which could be a tear after all.  Awesome.  Maybe that run wasn’t the best idea.  So, I tried some more PT…and continued to hike without issue….unless I stepped sideways (think trying to catch a door and hold it open with your foot or kicking a soccer ball).  And for some reason, the doctor was always able to mimic that….haha.

Anyway, after two rounds of prolo, I was left with two options – surgery or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections.  Since I was nowhere near ready to let someone operate on it (I’d have to pretty much be unable to walk before that happens), I opted for the PRP injections.  Since there was still some strain in my quad and a couple of other places, my doctor also recommended some additional prolo injections at the same time.

I scheduled the procedure for later that week – a day after my in person interview, two days before I had to get on a place to New York, and in plenty of time to heal before working the next trail race.  Due to the timing (injections two days away), I had to start preparing right away.  Drink lots of water (two nalgene bottles on the day of)….no alcohol for two days before or five days after.  No OTC pain relievers (NSAIDS).  Ok, I can do that……I may or may not have snuck a cup of spiked tea in there somewhere…..

I was told (and read) that I would be more sore after these injections and I wouldn’t be able drive after these injections (not that I tried to drive after the last ones either).  Due to that, I took the bus over to the office.  Shorts on Muni….ewww….should have planned that one better.

While the prolo injections were a sugar water-type substance, PRP is an injection of your own platelets into the joint, so I had to come in an hour early for the blood draw.  The blood is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the plasma and red blood cells.  The drawing was done with a giant syringe, which was a creepy thought, especially when I saw the syringe.  However, it was quite painless in reality.  I didn’t watch, just read and re-read the diploma on the wall.  haha.  The nurses asked if I needed anything or wanted water once it was done.  I had some with me, so drank the rest of that and munched on some cookies while I waited for the platelets to be spun out.      

Similar to the prolo injections, the procedure was pretty easy and painless for the twelvish injections. He started with the prolo (after the anesthetic) and then moved on to the platelets.  It felt a lot like the first two rounds….pressure and fullness.  He had the ultrasound facing me, so I could watch the stuff going in, but after seeing that once decided it was weird and just looked at the ceiling.  He had to tap the bone(s) to get the platelets to activate….weird….and ouch.  At some point, the platelets clotted, so he had to stop, fix the shot, and then carry on.  That was weird…and then something (meniscus maybe) did some weird vibrating thing – apparently that was supposed to happen.

Knee was once again full and all sorts of swollen.  Not nearly as numb as the first two times, unfortunately.  This one started to ache almost immediately.  However, I was able to hobble out, pay my bill, and call an Uber.  I think my Uber ride may have been a more harrowing experience than the injections.  Driver spent the entire ride talking about how careful he needed to be….never mind the red light he ran.  He was also really pre-occupied with picking up someone else, even though they had canceled the request.  Luckily, we arrived at Walgreens without issue.

I filled my prescription….hooray for the good drugs.  haha.  And had a friend pick me up, since I decided walking the quarter mile home would be a bad idea.  By the time I got home, it had already started to bruise, along with swell.  Ouch, and gross, but that meant it was working, right?  It also made a far more disgusting liquidy, squishing, sound when it was bent.

The next morning (and subsequent couple of days) it was far more sore than it had been with the past injections, I was pretty much hobbling…as long as it didn’t bend, it was ok.  Which was fine, as long as I wasn’t trying to walk.  So, I kept that to a minimum, and spent most of the day resting….and took a doctor’s ordered nap.  Flying wasn’t too bad, I wore running pants and took the meds and got more rest.  As the days wore on, the swelling went down and the bruising is just about gone now.  Here’s to hoping it worked and I’ll be back to running ASAP.    

Over and out, until next time….

Respect the Limp

Well, I can cross prolotherapy and ozone off my bucket list, and hopefully fix my knee once and for all.

After hurting my knee during this race, I’ve spent the past four months trying to heal via rest and PT, but it didn’t seem to be getting there. It got better, but was never really where I wanted it to be. At this point, the doctor thought the pain might be caused by a tear, so I had three options – prolotherapy and ozone, platelet injection, or surgery. I opted for an MRI so I’d know what I was really dealing with and learned that nothing was torn – yay!  Based on that, I was advised to go the less expensive, less painful, and less recovery time route of prolotherapy. And now my iPad recognizes prolotherapy as a word….haha. But, I digress…..

Prolotherapy is an injection of basically sugar water into an area with limited blood supply to cause irritation and increase the blood supply, thus improving the tissue’s ability to heal on its own. He also advised ozone…..some sort of oxygen substance.

Having had cortisone injections in the past, I was a little nervous about how it might feel after….cortisone was all well and good until the numbing agent wore off and then BAM – worst pain ever. However, I was assured this would be very different.

The procedure itself was pretty easy and painless for getting nine or so shots. The only ones that really hurt were the numbing ones. The first one caused some weird muscle reflex/jerking thing, which was odd and a little freaky. He asked what happened and I really wasn’t sure. Once I was numb, it wasn’t too bad….felt a lot like jello running through my veins if you can imagine. What that feels like.  And some pressure and a feeling of fullnessas it went on, but that’s about it. Three shots later and the inside was done. On to the front.  That part was….weird. Really weird.  And it was right on the side of the tibia, so I could feel most of it. Felt kind of like lava running down my bone. Ouch. But, luckily short lived. There was another shot that had to be jostled or something to get the muscle firing. Also weird. Then on to the quad.  Not bad at all once it was numb. And then it was over.

Knee felt full and was all sorts of oddly swollen. Almost like a smaller version of what happened at the race. Walking was interesting since half of my leg was numb…..doctor told me to respect the limp and go slow. Haha….after a stop at Walgreens to get the pain killers and Safeway to get some chicken – I was told to eat protein and not carbs, so my Friday night go-to of pasta was a no go, it was home to rest and let the healing begin.

Now, it looks far less deformed and is a little more achy.  And my leg muscles are softly quaking….it’s weird, but not awful and hopefully that means the stuff is working. I just hope it stops before bedtime.

For now, I’m excited to relax and watch the Red Sox, and sleep in for the first time in as long as I can remember. Though, I do wish I was heading out for a run or to volunteer tomorrow, I think I could use the rest.

Over and out….

Grizzly Peak Half

Another weekend, another race with Coastal Trails.  It was early, but I was excited for the race – whether I’m volunteering or running, Coastal always puts on a good race.  My knee still wasn’t where I wanted it to be and life, well, life continues to be assessed one day at a time. Based on that, it was safe to say I wasn’t in the physical or mental shape to complete a 50k.  But, I forced myself to get up and go to the race….I always have fun and I didn’t really care what distance I did, it was all about getting out there.

I managed to get to the start with minimal issues. I’m pretty sure the gps was confused with all of the highway over passes, but I made it.  I parked and checked in with no problem.  I picked up my 50k bib and changed it to the 30k.  While I hadn’t been specifically told not to run, I figured 30+ miles on a knee that was MRI’d last night wasn’t the best decision. It was colder than I had anticipated, so I took my shirt and bib and hunkered down in the car for a bit.  Got my shoes and ankle brace on, and all of my stuff out – gloves, headphones, phone, etc. and packed up my pack.  Didn’t grab any food….that would have been far too easy.
I decided to swing by the bathroom and then come back to my car, grab my stuff, and head out for the run.  I had twenty minutes….should be fine, right.  The line did move quickly, and I was back at my car with about three minutes to spare. However, either my gps clock was off or the race started early….I was maybe thirty seconds from the start and I heard Wendell’s telltale count down ending at ‘1’.  The race had begun!  Luckily, I was close and not too far behind. I also knew with the knee injury, I’d be walking a lot.
I had come out to preview the course twice, but I really didn’t recognize the first few miles.  I think I was still settling in from being late and mentally preparing myself to run. It was a lot of gentile up, if I recall correctly….but, I made it to the golf course before I knew it and was able to grab some electrolyte drink.  Of course I was feeling like my sugar was low on the day I forgot to bring gu.  But, the electrolytes did the trick and I was off….I jogged a lot more than I thought I would, down Selby, to Redwood, to Tower…..how quickly I had learned the names of new trails and gotten used to the rolling hills. I jogged most of redwood and walked up tower pretty easily.  I was in a groove and feeling alright. Knee was a little sore, so I had 95% decided I would stop at the half – probably a good idea to stick to that distance until my knee and life are resolved.
I got to the top of tower and turned down grizzly peak….at some point, I started passing people. I never pass anyone….but it was fun to be with other runners – say hello, or good morning, or nice job.  I was also surprised that I knew where I was going, after only a few trips to these trails. After grizzly peak, it was more rolling hills and a really steep, rocky descent.  There were so many times I was sure I was going to tumble to the bottom, but I made it. I had a guy pass me and say, ‘these stones suck’, why yes they do, my friend. Then there was a guy coming up the hill towards me…all I could think was, please let this man be looking for the quickest way back – don’t tell me I have to climb up this too. No such luck…..the closer I got to the bottom, the more people that were coming up.
Just before I got to the bottom, I had a guy tell me I was at the bottom – thank god….my knee did not enjoy that. I stopped at the aid station to grab some more electrolytes and was off up the hill, and down the hill, and up, and down.  Lots of rolling….it almost felt like I couldn’t settle in and I thought I preferred the somewhat more predictable, longer hills of the headlands, but looking at Strava later, I ran pretty well, so, I’ll take them.
The rollers ended on the fire road I ran with Ksenya and Arielle last weekend, so I felt good about that and was able to run most of it. Walk the uphill, jog down, became my mantra. The views were amazing and it was a nice ride for the most part. Close to the aid station I came up on another runner who had fallen.  A lot of people had stopped to check on her and help her up….trail running is such a community. It seemed like she was more starteled than hurt, and I was happy for her when I saw her blow by the finish line later to start her second lap.
I got back to the aid station and grabbed a hammer gel – yay, they had vanilla!  I didn’t eat all of it, but I definitely felt like I had ingested a bunch of frosting…..perhaps the caffeine in gu mellows that piece out. Haha. Either way, I began making my way up the steep stone hill….I was glad for two thing – one, the other runners I was with and two, the fact that I didn’t have to climb up this again. And I guess three, this was the last big climb in the race.
I got to the top, and from that point, it was pretty much down hill to the finish – maybe four miles or so…..a bit of rolling, but then, I decided if i was doing the half, this course was mine.  From there, I was able to run down most of grizzly peak, other than jumping out of the way of some horses, until I got to the golf course aid station.  Stopped to grab some more electrolytes and off I went. Past the golf course, past the bench I had lunch on last weekend, across a street…..passed a guy, back into the woods. At that point, it had to be about a mile back I and I went for it….one of my fastest trail miles to date….other than that moment where I thought I would bite it. Haha. Only funny because I didnt.  Around the corner, and to the finish.
I got my medal and found someone to change my distance from the 30k to the half, chatted with some of the other finishers, and grabbed a recovery beer while I waited for the sausages that had just started grilling.  While I waited, I met a guy who’d done this as his first half (doozy course for the first time) and was waiting for his wife to finish hers.  It seemed as though he has caught the bug and will do more races in the future.
I enjoyed the sun and got my sausage – it was delicious.  Great time, great race, kudos Coastal Trails, Wendell, and volunteers, for such a great race.
Until next time!

Montara Mountain Race Report

I know I promised a new year’s update, and at some point it’s coming….really.  But, in the interim, a race report from my most recent trail adventure.

Awhile ago, I decided to get back into volunteering at races, something I’d really missed since AIDS Marathon closed and I’d gone back to school.  After helping out at the Steep Ravine race a few weeks ago, I received a coupon for a race entry and decided the Montara Mountain 50k would be a perfect training ground for my 50 miler at the end of March.

What I didn’t count on was life getting in the way, a lagging injury, and a cough I couldn’t shake. My knee had been healing since my 50 miler during the 24 hour race on New Years, and I’d come down with something at the start of February, and to say that life has been crazy lately would be a huge understatement. Based on all of that, I had already decided to scale my planned 100 in March down to a 50, if anything at all. But, I’d already singed up for the race – might as well get myself out there and see what I could do. After all, the physical therapist told me I should try some longer distances.

I arrived at the race about 30 minutes prior to the start, plenty of time to get ready to get out there….much of the reason I love these races so much, so low key and easy. I got my bib and shirt, and then of course realized that I’d left my ankle brace in the car. Of course I did….luckily, it was just a short walk back to grab it and I was good to go. I made a short attempt at hitting the bathroom, but alas, the line was too long. Oh well, I knew I’d be passing through that area in a few short miles.

The race started out with a climb up the North Peak.  Much of the course was new to me, but I had run a piece of this section a few weeks prior to get a feel for it, but had to stop when it started pouring. The first four or so miles were an uphill climb to the peak.  It was tough…even with the headlands, that are anything but flat, being my main training ground.  Not only was it tough from an athletic standpoint, it was a single track with lots of people….traffic jam!  Luckily, everyone was in good spirits and very courteous to one another.

I knew I’d be walking all of the uphill and potentially some of the downhill.  My longest run since the 50 mile had been 11 miles….really, all bets were off. I started the race with one of my coworkers and we walked the uphill to the peak where we picked up our rubber bands to prove we were there. We walked part of it with a couple who told us about a friend of theirs running across the country a marathon at a time – I can’t imagine. We ran most of the way down, which was good for me.  Legs felt pretty good….knees were a little sore with the downhill and the rest of me was feeling it, but nothing out of the question. However, I had realized I’d probably be settling for the half that day.

I came through the finish line/aid station area feeling pretty good….said hello to one of the guys I’d volunteered with who was working the aid station, grabbed some electrolytes and was on my way.

The second hill wasn’t too bad, maybe a mile or so up and a mile or so down.  But, by that point, things were hurting, I was definitely not in the same shape I was at the end of December.  As I began the third climb, I was glad I had decided to tackle only 13.1 that day. It had also gotten warm, so I stopped at some point to pull off the long sleeved shirt and attach it to my pack, careful to rope it in so it didn’t meet the same fate as my shirt last weekend and slip out.

Climbing the third and final hill, I realized I really needed some sugar.  I ate a gu and continued making my way up, up,up….feeling muscles hurting that I’d forgotten I had for the past month or so. By the time I got to the top, I was definitely feeling it and walked most of the way down.  I jogged across a bridge and around a corner, and there it was….the finish!  The volunteer directing runners noticed my bib and tried to direct me to the 50k course.  As sad as it made me, I thanked him and told him I was just going to do the half that day.

I finished the race and enjoyed some time just hanging out at the finish line. It was a nice change to be there for the beginning of the grilling and the good beer rather than roll in at 4….haha. I asked the volunteers about changing my race distance and Wendell took down my bib number and asked about my 24 hour race based on the t-shirt I was wearing.  Asked if I had received my coaster, which I had, along with my third place award…fun package to get in the mail.

Happy with my efforts, I enjoyed a grilled sausage and a beer while chatting with some other runners.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

As usual, Wendell and Coastal Trails put on a wonderful event – looking forward to next time!  Until then, over and out.

New Year’s One Day – Race Report

So, I was writing this in my head as I made multiple laps around Crissy Field – of course, now that I sit down to write it, I can’t really remember what I wanted to say…

Let’s start with the race itself and how I got there.  After the stomach issues at North Face, I needed to find another race to get in 50 miles prior to the Umstead 100 in March.  Googling local races, I found out that coastal trails had a twenty four hour race from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day – laps around Crissy field….not my idea thought on how to spend New Year’s, but it seemed easy enough.

The race was set up like your typical ultra….show up, get your bib and t-shirt, run the race.  This was a little different, since it consisted of one mile laps, there was a kind of camp set-up….start/finish, aid station, and tents….a bunch of the people brought tents for resting/hanging out.  There were others who brought chairs and coolers, and were set up for an all day group event. I set my bags down and made the decision to leave my pack with them, why carry it if I would literally pass by it every lap.

We ran in some serious wind for the first three hours….it wasn’t too bad on the stretch by the street, but the stretch by the bay was brutal.  However, the other runners were nice, sharing stories of races past and advice.  I decided to pick up my shuffle around lap three…I had twelve hours of serial podcasts that would keep me busy….unfortunately, they didn’t download for some reason.  So, I had a two hour loop of music that I hadnt listened to in ages…a close second, I guess.

Sometime around lap three or four, I heard someone calling my name.  I looked up to see my friend, Zena, from bootcamp.  She was there to do a few laps with her friend doing the six hour.  It was great to see her at the start for a couple of laps, and then out on the course at one point.

I easily made my way through the first fifteen or so miles, felt good and made sure to stop and eat every five miles or so.  The course had two paths by the aid station, and the veer right to the aid station was called ‘pit’.  I thought that was cool.  I had a good plan going thanks to some strategically placed cone markers….run parts of the pavement stretch (though, this stopped at mile 15 due to the tough terrain), run the first curve to the first cone marker, walk to the next cone, then run the next two….repeat to the aid station.

I stopped at some point to find out why my toe was hurting…turns out there was no reason for it, but I did find a blister on a different toe to wrap. Hopefully I dont lose a toenail in the near future.  By the time I hit 25, I was ready for some fresh clothes….I had dressed warmly for the morning chill, but was now sweaty and not warming up.

By the time I hit mile 30, I was far more sore than I wanted to be for only being at 30 miles.  I was also bored and getting tired of laps.  It was pretty bleak until about mile 35, where I think the Advil kicked in. However, my friend Joseph came down to say hello and do a couple of laps with me.  It was great to catch up and have some company to pass the time.  He also said something about the messages people had sent via email.  I hadn’t gotten any, so I assumed I didn’t have any yet.  He said that he had sent one…and that people on Facebook had mentioned they were sending them too.  I was surprised no one from the race had mentioned where to find them, but after stopping and asking, I was directed to a filing box holding messages.  And I had a bunch – very thankful for all of the hellos from friends and family.  A friend and some nice messages, great way to get through some tough miles.

Once I hit 35, I started to feel pretty good again.  Still sore, but I was able to take up my running plan again on the trail pieces of the course.  Loved getting the sudden burst of energy….it really made miles 35 to about 42 pretty bearable.  I checked my messages again and had a bunch more…many thanks – those made my run :).  I talked to the guy about the 100 miler I had planned and he asked why I wasn’t doing coastal’s….haha…maybe next year.  It might be fun to volunteer at this year though or get in another 50.  Somewhere in there the aid station had pizza…nothing like walking a mile and munching on a slice of cheese and pepperoni.  haha…

At 42, I was pretty much done…I hit 12 hours right around that point, despite having been shooting to get the full 50 in 12.  Stupid miles 30-35 or whatever they were.  I had been ahead of pace until then, but good learnings for next time.  Hopefully that will still be ok for the 100 miler.  I was also getting cold, despite having on one of my everest wool tops and hood.  It was warm when I was walking, but the clothes underneath not so much after sweating.  I told myself I needed to get to 50 before I stopped again….it would be a great reward in a couple of laps….clean clothes, bathroom stop, aid station break.

A lot of people seemed to disappear at this point…either to tents or cars or where ever to rest.  But, I was going to get my 50.  I ran into a guy dressed in flame print shorts and a shirt, who told me he was facing his feet forward, because one day, they would all be pointing towards the sky….well, that was one way to look at it.  haha.  I did various parts of 47-49 with a guy visiting from Dallas, specifically for the New Year’s race.  He had accepted the fact that he was going to walk the rest of the night, and had changed into hiking boots.  My right knee had been pretty sore since about 45, so hiking boots seemed like they would have been a good call at that point.  I was thankful for the company, as I was also really bored….give me the hills in the headlands any day…..  

I finally got to my last lap, and I had originally planned on changing some, eating some, maybe having some soup, maybe a rest in the car, and coming back out for some more laps.  But, I think on some level, I knew I was done.  I bid farewell to the pavement that was destroying my shins, to the slight hill on the first curve, the deep sand right before the first curve, and the sharp turn to the timing mat.  I stopped to snap a photo of my garmin once it hit 50….on the back straight-away that had been insanely windy during the early part of the race.

I crossed the lap mat post-50 miles and hobbled over to the aid station, desperate for some soup.  Somehow, I managed to hit it just as they ran out and they were making more.  Ugh…how do you run out of soup?  I wanted to stop and get any additional messages that had been sent, but I was so cold and sore and desperate for a few minutes of warmth and dry clothes, so I hobbled over to my stuff, grabbed it, and began a treacherous walk through the grass to my car.  In reality, it was probably 100 feet, but it was grass and not flat, and wow did my knee hurt.  I did notice multiple people sleeping in their cars as I passed by….I apologize for the headlamp I probably flashed directly at them….

Once I got in the car, I realized how cold I was and how sore my knee really was.  I wasnt sure what was worse, trying to stop shaking or having to push the seat in my car back and pull my leg in with hands because my knee wouldnt bend.  Once I got a better look at it, I realized it was swollen, and there was a weird swelling just above my knee on the side of my quad.  Gross….did I break my leg and miss it?  #ultrarunnerproblems.  At that point, I realized two things: one, I really didnt feel good and two, I was done for the night.  I opened the car door to get some air….to think a few minutes ago all I wanted was some heat.  Once I felt a little better, I pulled off my timing chip, put my headlamp back on and hobbled over to camp.  I asked the race director if I should give it to him and he pointed me in the direction of the check-in tent.  He asked if I was done, and I told him I got to the 50 I wanted and my knee was shot, he congratulated me on the 50 and wished me a happy new year.

I hobbled over to the check-in tent where she took my chip and gave me a medal.  It would have been fun to make it to midnight, to share champagne with my fellow 24 hour runners, and to walk through the night with the people I’d me throughout the day.  However, there is something to say for  knowing when it’s time to be done.

After turning everything in, I hobbled back over to the car where I proceeded to wait until I stopped shaking and was able to drive home.  Luckily, traffic was minimal and I got home pretty quickly.  It took me at least ten minutes to gather the strength to get out of my car….of course in that time, I found the slug that hitched a ride to the car on my bag.  Awesome.

Somehow, I got up the stairs to my apartment – perhaps the adrenaline was still flowing.  Once Brian greeted me at the door with some wine and I sat down at the kitchen table, trying to get up was a different story.  Literally hanging on to walls to get to the stairs and then using the railing to climb up the stairs…..I have no idea how I managed to shower and get back downstairs without falling and breaking something.  Super thankful for grubhub and their ability to let me order Sparky’s on my phone and have it delivered to my house.

After a brief New Year’s celebration and my Sparky’s dinner, I was ready to call it a night.  Another race in the books.  50 mile distance achieved.  Kudos to Wendell and Coastal Trails for putting on another great race.  And, what did I learn?  There are a lot of long runs in my future….double days are one thing, but I really need to work on staying stronger longer….pushing that wall out from now mile 30.  And, while this race was an experience, the ultras in the headlands were much more fun….so I see more of those in my future too :).

so, thats it for now….over and out for now.  hopefully a new years/2015 entry coming soon :).

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree….

On Saturday, December 6th, North Face gave to me….

Six days of rain…
Five aid stations…
Four course changes…
Three washed out trails…
Two course sweepers…
One adventure on the trails

In all seriousness, What. A. Day.  Really.  In retrospect, I should have known.  Either the six days of rain, or the four course changes that came down yesterday and today should have been my first clue.  If not that, then the no more than an hour of sleep I got last night (stupid stress) or the pepto I was choking down at 3:30am.

But, I figured the course updates would make it easier and I didnt have to do my least favorite trails.  And I figured the lack of sleep and sick were due to nerves.  I went to bed early all week in preparation, so I actually wasnt completely exhausted race morning.

We were up at three and out the door by 3:45.  Out the door and into the pouring rain…what a nightmare this is going to be…can’t it be a dry nightmare?  We were parked and shuttled by 4:45.  The nerves were back, so luckily I was able to make a pit stop at the visitor’s center bathroom – can you say auto-flush toilet?  Delicacy in the wilderness.

The race started shortly after we arrived, luckily, there was no rain in Marin.  After a couple of announcements, including another course change, we were off.  Dean Karnazes was just inside the start line, he patted my shoulder and said, “yeah, go get it”.  At that point, I felt great…I was going to own this race.

The first ten miles were pretty uneventful…some running, some walking, some run/walking.  I felt great, and was a half mile to a mile ahead of my goal pace.  Then I got to the end of the second loop and stopped at the aid station.  And, something just felt off.  I thought it was the ankle brace throwing off my body mechanics, and made a mental note to pull it off when I changed my socks at the next aid station.

After a climb up Miwok and a descent into Tennessee Valley, where we were suddenly overrun by 50k runners, I was at the next aid station where Glenn and Adrienne were waiting to crew with clean socks.  I saw my friend Toby running the 50k shortly before I reached my crew.  I also ditched the ankle brace and my headlamp…but for some reason I was insistent on keeping it with me. Perhaps I was already delirious. Nonetheless, I headed out towards Pirates Cove at a run/walk. That lasted about a mile before I was just walking….it seemed as if my stomach chose that moment to say, “yeah…about those nerves…it’s not nerves”.  And “you should walk, or bad things will happen”.  Awesome, taken down by the one thing you can’t plan for.

The lone other 50 miler chose that moment to tell me that the sweepers were right behind us, even though we were way ahead of the cutoff time. So, I took a breath, continued up the hill, and tried to chat with the 50k runner next to me. Who told me what a great day it was and how he had changed his race from the marathon, cause what’s five extra miles?  A little too peppy for someone trying to talk their stomach down.

I got to the top quicker than I thought I would, and still ahead of my goal. But, then I met Pirates Cove, which can be sketchy on a good day. After almost a week of rain, it was a mud bath. Think slip and slide minus the pool at the end. Well, there was a cliff and the ocean was past it, so maybe it was the same. I was pretty sure I was going to fly off the cliff and into the ocean. At one point, I decided to take the grass on the side rather than the mud, tried to crawl across a rock and end up falling. Great.  Whatever was hurting in my knee just got worse.

At that point, the sweepers let me know that they were there if I needed anything, but not to worry, I had plenty of time. I told them I was having a rough day, but was going to walk it out. I also started thinking about what plan b was going to be. At that point, I figured I would either make it to Stinson Beach and stop there, or see if I could turn at the 50k and finish the race with them. Not what I wanted, but better than not finishing at all.

I decided to press on and see what happened. The sweepers were nice and alternated between checking on me and keeping me company. I heard at one point via a radio that I had gotten too slow, so I power walked as best I could – out of muir beach, on to redwood creek trail, over to heather cutoff. Which is where the craziness began….picture this – washed out trail, think a river running down it – nearly single track trail, with people going up and down.  Suddenly, the hills I didnt think would be a huge deal to run/walk up and jog down were a mud-filled nightmare.

Going up the hill, there were mid/back of the pack 50kers….and two 50 milers that I hiked past.  No matter what happened, I was no longer last.  I cautiously proceeded up the switch-backs with a group of 50kers….occasionally grabbing on to one another as we jumped out of the way for the in-it-to-win it 50 milers and fast 50kers came down the hill at mach 50.  Really guys?  The leaders passed by several hours ago – I promise, you wont catch them.  Can you slow down so we can all get through the mud bath safely?  At this point, I had lost my sweeper friends to two of the guys I passed.

Shortly into Heather Cutoff, the first trail, a guy came flying down the switch-back above, had zero traction on the curve, and flew off the trail, off the hill, into the brush below.  We all held our breath as he climbed out of the bushes, righted himself, held up his hands and said, “I’m good”.  One of the ladies in our group called out, “sir, you have just won the race’.  Countless slips, slides, and crashes later, we were moved on to Coastal trail.

Now, Coastal is a similar trail, but more exposed, so I hoped in better condition.  However, after 1000 people run up and down a wet trail, it’s a mess no matter what.  But this trail brought an added challenge – bikes!  Now, really, who rides their bike down a hill through several feet of mud….and a race course.  Apparently several people…including a dad and a kid. Really?  You couldnt find a trail without 1000 people on it to ride on today?  We continued our journey up the hill, at some point I stepped in what I’ll call pot holes and ended up in ankle deep mud.  awesome….I think at some point in all of that, I ran into my friend Toby again and Dr. Hal, both on their way down.

Finally, I get to Cardiac…with time to spare.  Decision time.  A- see if I could quickly change out of my soaked socks, grab a sandwich, cross my fingers, and see if I could make it to the next cutoff….or B – realize it wasnt my day, see if I could change my race, head back down the hill and have a chance to finish a race, even if it wasnt the one I wanted.  I had been thinking about it for awhile, and had decided to go with option b.  I couldnt control the fact that I had to have pepto for breakfast and not much else since then, but what I could control was my reaction to it.

I had some PB&J and water, and looked around for someone to ask about changing races.  The aid station captain didnt seem to know, and was too busy force feeding M&M’s and telling a 50 miler who was on his way back down that he wasn’t allowed to quit because he was tired.  One of the sweepers from earlier found me at the aid station…”there you are!  we completely lost you…we stopped with the other guys and then you were just gone.”  A testament to my training that even feeling awful I can still hike myself up a hill just fine.  He helped me find the right person to switch my race, so I found my drop bag and changed out of my wet shirt and singlet into dry ones, and took the dry socks out and stashed them in my pack for a change at Muir Beach, and was on my way.

Going down was just as much of an adventure as going up.  I had a guy pass me who was fiddling with his coat and ipod, holding a water-bottle, and navigating the mud.  I watched him slish and slosh from left to right and knew it was only a matter of time.  A couple more sloshes and down he went.  I asked if he was ok, he told me he was, just shouldnt mess with his stuff while running.  Yeah…probably a good idea.  As I made my way down, I started to think that if these were the trails deemed safe for 1000 people to go up and down, I dont want to see the ones that were unsafe…

I got down and back to Muir Beach, thankful for the aid station.  The people there were so friendly – they helped me get my gross shoes off so I could change my socks and gave me chicken broth since they thought I was cold, and helped me wash my hands.  After that, I was ready to go up one of the toughest climbs on the course.  My game plan…just keep moving (looking at the stats afterwords, I did get my third best time going up that set of hills.  Haha.

About halfway up the hills, Ksenya (who was going to pace me from Stinson, where I never made it to) and Adrienne my other running buddy yelled up the hill to me.  So exciting to have friends to share the journey with!  It didnt take them too long to catch up, and it made the time down to Tennessee Valley pass pretty quickly.  At TV, I got to see the rest of the crew, but I wanted to keep moving, so headed up Marincello after grabbing another PB&J.  It was great to have Ksenya to share the journey with (Adrienne had to move her car at TV).  She kept me going, and before I knew it, we were near the finish line.  I was able to run the last few feet through the finish line and go hang out with my crew.  

All things said and done, I got in a 50k (+ ended up being 37 miles)….I went further than I ever have before…I crossed the finish line.  And yesterday, that was enough.  Today, I wish I could have made the 50 happen, but there will be other races.  Either this one next year…or another before then, since I think I was supposed to do something before the 100 miler.  We’ll see….Thank you to the sweepers, for helping me salvage something out of what could have been a disaster of a day.  Huge thanks to our crew, pacers, and friends that came out to the event – could not have done it without you.  And congrats to Brian, who had a great 50 mile race!